Lent is here. For many this is a season of increased emphasis on the religious life.
For most of my life, I participated in Mainline Protestant faith communities that asked participants to give something up for Lent. The list didn’t change from year to year. It included
- food (chocolate and/or all sweets seemed to be a top choice), and
- drink (usually a word substitute for alcohol although soda was a viable option for children).
In more recent years, the items on the list one might choose to give up has expanded. The new list includes
A healthy alternative Lenten discipline has emerged: adding something. The options for what one might add is endless. Some ideas include
- living by the Jesus Creed
- spiritual disciplines – including regular worship attendance
- wearing something specific (jumpsuits and collars are among the most unique options)
And, the list has grown this year to include alternative facts/fake news.
A few days ago I encountered a blog post by the Episcopal priest and author Tom Ehrich that was the most direct and helpful article I read all week because it reminded me that Jesus acted and expects us to do the same. Ehrich’s post begins with these words:
He also wept. He spoke truth to power. He taught about wealth and power. He welcomed all manner of people into his presence. He called outliers to be disciples.
Most of all, he acted. Faced with a situation, he did something. He fed hungry people, he healed the sick, he protected the vulnerable. Instead of building an institution, he traveled around. Instead of promulgating doctrines and institutional rules, he took action.
He had no interest in right-opinion. He spoke against the hurtful ways that the religious were using the Law. His consistent message was: Go out and help people. Come and see what God’s love can be. Give away your wealth. Enter into God’s new creation.
He modeled action that was direct, specific, courageous and other-oriented.
Ehrich’s call to action is straightforward . He calls on individuals and congregations to make a difference in America during this challenging time, and offers more than ten specific possible actions.
Perhaps this year you feel you have taken action by choosing one or more items to give up or to add on during Lent. Or, perhaps this year you either opted out of both of these options or started but failed to continue with something you selected. Regardless of which of these best describes your 2017 experience to date, I encourage you to consider committing to making the rest of the Lenten season a time of intentional action and activism.
Is God calling you to act? What will you do?Tweet